Kenya may fine offenders US$59K for abusive SMS

Kenyans sending abusive text messages could be fined as much as KSh5 million (US$ 59,000), the government said yesterday during the weekly media briefing.

The National Steering Committee on media monitoring also promised a new technology that will track and detect abusive language in SMS texts send by mobile users in Kenya.

Omwa Ombara, the acting director of public communications in the Ministry of Information was quoted by the DailyNation as saying, “Those charged with the offence will be liable for prosecution and may be subject to extremely high fines, some as high as Sh5 million (US$ 59,000) and above.”

“We are now working with the Department of Public Prosecutions as the area of prosecutions of violations of social media is still new,” Ms Ombara said.

The fine is yet to be gazetted as a law.

“Ways are being sought to disable these destructive medium and Communications Commission of Kenya is looking closely into the matter,” Alex Kerich, Film Services director, said.

Also present at the event according to The Nation was Charles Owino the deputy police spokesman Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) and corporate affairs manager Christopher Wambua who further asked bloggers in Kenya to be on the lookout for any form of hate speech online and alert the ministry of communications.

“The government will act to ensure that the internet is not used to provide room for such activity,” Ombara said.

The fine and hate speech tracking gadget might be interpreted by a section of people as a move to limit their freedom of expression online.

This comes as Kenya hosts the second Freedom Online Conference today, which urges the governments and civil society organisations to lobby for freedom for expression on the Net, for social and economic transformation.

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